West bank: into the valley of the kings


[Egypt, luxor. West bank]

Understatement: the west bank is a world away from the concrete town of luxor on the east.

Maybe it was the sun, but i began thinking this theban necropolis was truly the kingdom of osiris, and we little humans teetered on the edge of the underworld. The valley itself certainly looked impressive–thanks to the simmering yellows and browns as the sun, bright, relentless, reflected off the valley sand and stones. Wandering in and out of the cool tombs really did feel like an induction to and from the world above.

But the real gold is underground (and the real treasures now sit in cairo’s egyptian museum). Over sixty tombs built during the 16th-11century BC for pharoahs and nobles. Blues, reds and golds from millenia ago still remain vivid. In the tombs, i began to think the ancients egyptians must have been super talkative people. The amount of text and symbols etched across walls and ceilings is amazing. Language barrier aside, it’s impossible to take in the enormity and complexity suggested. But i guess it is exactly as how any mortal might feel in the wake of a god. Or the idea of gods.

Some tombs quote heavily from the book of the dead–one tomb actually had a snoozing guard within, which i thought was pretty funny. His snores echoed.

The sun burns on as you’re underground tunneling through the centuries.

 

:: Pictures aren’t allowed, so either keep your camera well-hidden or surrender it at each entrance, where…
:: Torches are provided in exchange for baksheesh. You will be reminded if you forget :)
:: I was personally very glad for my triple threat of cap+sunglasses+scarves. But some tourists were enjoying the burn. And could have passed for a desert lizard with their skin…
:: We happily trotted tomb to tomb, before realising the ticket [80EGP] only allows entry into a maximum of three tombs. Completely made sense, when you see mold patches have sprouted on ceilings, marking the breath of curious, living breathing men.

:: Visit twice, if not for the necropolis, then for the villages and sunset rides. Take the local ferry(1EGP) from the dock behind the luxor temple (near the winter palace hotel). It offers a completely different view in.

.

Crossing the nile to the west bank.

Our driver stopped here for his requisite smoke.

Everyone greets the colossi of memnon. The mortuary temple is gone, but the two guards still stand huge.

Hatshepsut mortuary temple was stunning. I didn’t realise this was also the site of the massacre that happened in 1997.

Our driver knew this one: howard carter’s house. The archaeologist who discovered tutankhamun’s tomb. Wikipedia quotes this interesting bit:

He made the breach into the tomb with a chisel his grandmother had given him for his seventeenth birthday.. He did not yet know at that point whether it was “a tomb or merely a cache”, but he did see a promising sealed doorway between two sentinel statues. When Carnarvon asked “can you see anything?”, Carter replied with the famous words: “Yes, wonderful things.”

West bank, luxor

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